Mission - The mission of the 97th Operations Group is to initiate Global Mobility by expertly training airlift and aerial refueling aircrews to achieve global reach and power while simultaneously maintaining worldwide deployment capabilities.

The 97th Operations Group is the home of the Air Force's only KC-135, KC-46, and C-17 formal training units (FTU), responsible for initial and upgrade aircrew training for all three weapons systems.

The group consists of the 54th Air Refueling Squadron, 56th Air Refueling Squadron, 58th Airlift Squadron, and 97th Training Squadron, which train highly capable and qualified aircrew for USAF active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve along with 19 NATO and allied countries. The elite instructor corps provides training in specialized areas including: aerial refueling, airdrop, night vision goggle operations, low-level environments, assault zone landings as well as tactical procedures.

The 97th Operations Support Squadron’s airfield operations including weather, tactics, and aircrew flight equipment flights enable the daily flying operations required to accomplish student training.

All of these agencies work together, enabling the 97th Operations Group’s execution of the 97th Air Mobility Wing’s $410 million dollar flying-training program.

The 97th Operations Group is also leading the way with its Virtual/Enhanced Reality Training, Innovation and Generation Office (VERTIGO), whose innovative partnerships with AFWERX continue to explore the utilization of emerging technologies to train future students across all three airframes. Leveraging the experience of some of the Air Force’s top innovators, VERTIGO continues to push the leading edge to immerse students in virtual training environments that match what is found in the cockpit.

The incredible efforts of the 97th Operations Group’s instructors, as well as its military and civilian support personnel, make Altus the premiere training location for the future of America’s Air Mobility and enables it to be poised to provide real-world support in times of natural disasters and humanitarian crisis across the globe both now and well into the future. 



97th Operations Support Squadron

The 97th Airdrome Squadron was constituted on 1 April 1943 and activated on 5 April 1943 until later Inactivated on 10 November 1947 and disbanded on 8 October 1948.
Eventually it was reconstituted, and consolidated later on 29 August 1991 with the 97th Operations Squadron which was constituted on 22 April 1959. Activated on 1 July 1959 then discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 January 1962.
Then it was redesignated as the 97th Operations Support Squadron on 29 August 1991. Activated on 1 September 1991. Inactivated on 1 June 1992 until activated on 1 October 1992.
On Feb. 15, 2002, the 97th Operations Support Squadron split to create a separate training squadron. The 97th Training Squadron was born, taking with it the student administration section, quality assurance section and two training flights.
The 97th Operations Support Squadron, consisting of officers, enlisted and civilian personnel, manages the wing's $412-million, 18,872-hour flying program for over 261 instructors and 2,189 C-17 and KC-135 students annually. The unit provides direct support to two flying squadrons and operates six flights to include airfield operations, current operations, aircrew flight equipment, intelligence, tactics and weather.
In 2008, the unit won the Secretary of Defense CINC Installation Excellence-Special Recognition award. In 2009, the unit won the Air Education and Training Command Chief of Staff of the Air Force Team Excellence and Top Operations Squadron awards. The unit won the 2010 Oklahoma AFA Military Unit of the Year. The unit has recently won the 2011 and 2014 Air Education and Training Command’s Top Operations Squadron.

97th Training Squadron

The 97th Training Squadron manages the 97th Air Mobility Wing's $1.98-billion contracted aircrew training program for 275 assigned instructors and 2100 C-17, KC-135 and KC-46 students from the United States and 16 countries. The squadron operates six flights, including C-17 Aircrew Training System (ATS) quality assurance, KC-135 ATS quality assurance, KC-46 ATS quality assurance, training, and student support. Additionally, military training leaders provide mentorship and Airmanship training for 120 new Airmen annually in the Air Force Phase program.
Although portions of the squadron's training mission can be traced back to 1952 when the 1709th Technical Training Squadron was activated at West Palm Beach, Fla., the history of the 97th Training Squadron is relatively short.
The squadron activated for the first time Jan. 20, 1994, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and inherited the mission of the inactivated 330th Flying Training Squadron. It also became responsible for the KC-135 Certified Flight Instructor Course following the stand down of the Strategic Air Command. In August 2002, the Basic Load Master schoolhouse moved from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas to Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Each year, they trained 320 Active, Guard and Reserve members through their three-level basic loadmaster qualifications, until the loadmaster schoolhouse relocated to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas in 2007.
During the short first tenure of the 97th Training Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, the men and women of the unit preserved the prestige and quality training of the KC-135 Central Flight Instructor Course which had been tried, tested, and proven for more than 30 years.
The unit garnered overall excellent ratings during the 1995, 1997, 2004, 2006, and 2008 Air Education and Training Command Quality Air Force Assessment and Operational Readiness Inspections. Additionally, the squadron received an outstanding rating in the instructor qualification and training category during the 1995 inspection and an outstanding rating for the Military Training Flight in 2006 inspection.
The 97th Training Squadron earned three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards before its inactivation on Jan 16, 1998.
The squadron reactivated to concentrate on its current mission of student administration and quality assurance on Feb. 15, 2002. The 97 TRS provides quality assurance for the Wing's contracted aircrew training program, 23 syllabi, and 44 training devices worth $324 million encompassed in 13 facilities worth $93.2 million. Additionally they are tasked with standardizing the efforts of 275 assigned instructors and 283 civilian contractors for up to 2100 C-17/KC-135 students annually.
Since reactivation, the TRS has won 10 additional Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, the 2010 AETC Top Operations Squadron, Operations/Training Squadron, and the 2015 Air Force International Military Student Office of the Year.

54th Air Refueling Squadron

The 54th Air Refueling Squadron traces its lineage to the constitution of the 54th Transport Squadron on May 30, 1942, and its activation June 1st of that year.
As is typical of many Air Force units, several name changes occurred over the years. That first name lasted only a month, when it was re-designated as the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron July 4, 1942. On July 20, 1948, the unit became known as the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron (Heavy) and it was renamed the 54th Flying Training Squadron on April 14, 1972.
The 54th was originally based at Hamilton Field, Calif., but moved to Bowman Field, Ky., in June 1942. Successive reassignments were to Florence, S.C., in August 1942 and to Elmendorf Field, Alaska, until deactivation March 5, 1949. That deactivation lasted only six months and on September 20, 1949, the unit was activated again at Elmendorf, remaining in service until June 25, 1965.
The squadron moved from Alaska to Donaldson Air Force Base, S.C., in July 1956, until deactivation in 1965. While there the 54th deployed to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, to support the Berlin Airlift.
On April 14, 1972, the 54th received a new mission and name. It became the 54th Flying Training Squadron, and was reassigned to Reese Air Force Base, Texas, with an official activation date of October 1st. Here personnel trained new pilots in the T-38 until the 54th was once again deactivated in April of 1997.
The 54th Air Refueling Squadron was reactivated at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., January 16, 1998 where it remains today. The 54th Air Refueling Squadron is the sole Air Education and Training Command KC-135R flying training squadron and provides KC-135R initial and advanced flight qualification. As the tanker Formal Training Unit (FTU), the squadron's mission continues to encompass the training of all active duty, guard, reserve and international KC-135 crew members. Over 100 elite aircrew instructors and support staff execute a $84 million, 7,721 hour flying program to train 892 pilot and boom operator students annually for Department of Defense and international customers.

56th Air Refueling Squadron

The 56th Airlift Squadron had its beginning on November 8, 1942.  It was on that day that the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron was activated at Bowman Field, Kentucky, training in the C-47; its mission was to transport troops and equipment to the Pacific Theater during World War II.  During the war, the squadron moved to New Guinea, then to the Philippines, and ended up in Japan flying the C-46, where it was inactivated on March 25, 1946.
The squadron was reactivated on August 3, 1947 as a reserve unit flying the C-46 at Greater Pittsburgh Airport.  At the onset of the Korean Conflict, the squadron was recalled to active duty and moved to South Carolina where they began flying the C-82.  In 1952, it once again returned to reserve status at Pittsburgh where it operated the C-119 and C-124 until its inactivation in 1957.
On December 27, 1965, it was reactivated as the 56th Military Airlift Squadron and assigned to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.  Its mission was to train crews in the C-124.  In January 1969, it was moved to Altus and in October became the first operational United States Air Force C-5 unit.  Over the next 38 years, the squadron participated in many worldwide contingencies including action in Southeast Asia, the Arab Israeli Conflict (7-Day War) in 1973, Operation JUST CAUSE in 1989 (Panama), Operation DESERT SHIELD in 1990 (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Operation PROVIDE COMFORT in 1991 and 1992 (Northern Iraq), Operation PROVIDE HOPE in 1992 (Somalia), Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in 1994 (Haiti), Operation DENY FLIGHT in 1995 (Kuwait), Operation PROVIDE PROMISE in 1996 (Bosnia), Operation URGENT RESPONSE in 1996 (Liberia), Operation JOINT ENDEAVOUR (Bosnia), Operations PHOENIX SCORPION III and IV (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in 1998, and Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM in 2002 and 2003.
The 56th Military Airlift Squadron was redesignated as the 56th Airlift Squadron on August 27, 1991 following the United States Air Force reorganization at the end of the Cold War era.  This change reflected the squadron’s involvement with all worldwide airlift missions including training.  In May 1993, the 56th Airlift Squadron quadrupled its size by combining with its supporting flightline maintenance unit, becoming the largest and only Air Force C-5 unit with organic maintenance.  In December 1996, the 56th officially turned over maintenance responsibilities to the 97th Logistic Group under the control of the Department of the Air Force civilian service maintenance personnel.
On 27 June 2007, the 56th Airlift Squadron inactivated as the C-5 training mission transitioned to the USAF Reserves at Kelly Field, Texas.  The unit would only stay inactive for 9 years as it reactivated on 1 Aug 2016 as the 56th Air Refueling Squadron and prepared to become the first formal training unit for the USAF’s newest air refueling and cargo aircraft the KC-46 Pegasus.  The reactivation of the unit at Altus AFB returned the unit to the home it had since 1969 and reunited it with the 58th Airlift Squadron, a unit it had served with during the island hopping campaigns in the South Pacific during World War II.
The 56th Air Refueling Squadron maintains a proud history and tradition of training highly qualified aircrew members while operating the Air Force’s largest aircraft in the inventory throughout it’s history.  It is aligned under the United States Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command’s 19th Air Force, headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

58th Airlift Squadron

The 58th Troop Carrier Squadron was first activated on Nov. 12, 1942, at Bowman Field, Ky., and assigned to the 375th Troop Carrier Group flying the Curtis C-46 Commando, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
From 1942 to 1946, the squadron called many places home, including: Sedalia Army Air Field, Mo.; Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Field, N.C.; Port Moresby, New Guinea; Nadzab, New Guinea; Luzon, Philippines; and Tachikawa, Japan. The squadron performed extensive aerial transportation in the southwest and western Pacific during World War II and participated in the airborne assault on Nadzab, New Guinea, Sept. 5, 1943. The squadron was deactivated on March 25, 1946.
The squadron was reactivated under the 375th Troop Carrier Group at Youngstown Municipal Airport, Ohio, in the reserve, June 28, 1947. It was redesignated the 58th Troop Carrier Squadron (med) on June 27, 1949, flying the North American AT-6 Texan, Beach AT-11 Kansan and Curtis C-46 Commando. Until the squadron's second inactivation on Oct. 3, 1950, it performed training and airlift for the Army Air Corps and, from Sept. 18, 1947, for the newly established United States Air Force.
During the next 15 years of inactivation, the Air Force went through changes with airlift falling first under the Military Transport Service and later the Military Airlift Command. It was under the 63rd Military Airlift Wing that the unit was reactivated on Dec. 27, 1965, and redesignated 58th Military Airlift Squadron, Special, flying the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II and Lockheed C-141 Starlifter.
Upon organization, the squadron absorbed the personnel and resources of the 7th Air Transport Squadron, Special, and began performing airlift of passengers and cargo for the increasing mobilization of troops in Southeast Asia.
Additionally, during this period, the squadron participated in a wide variety of airlift operations including numerous humanitarian relief missions to Guatemala City in 1969 and transporting National War College students on annual international tours. The squadron established such an outstanding departure reliability rate and mission completion rate that Military Airlift Command named it the Outstanding Military Airlift Squadron for 1970. The Air Force placed the 58th on the inactive list Aug. 15, 1971.
The 58th Military Airlift Squadron remained inactive for six years. Then the Air Force activated it at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Sept. 1, 1977, under the 435th Tactical Airlift Wing. The 58th flew many aircraft types in its cargo and VIP transport mission: Lockheed VC-140 Jet Star, Boeing VC-135 Stratoliner, North American Aviation CT-39 Sabreliner, Beech C-12 (military version of the Beechcraft Super King Air B200C), Gates Learjet C-21 (Learjet 35A), C-20, and Boeing T-43. It was subsequently redesignated the 58th Airlift Squadron on June 1, 1992, and inactivated on Oct.1, 1993.
On Jan. 30, 1996, the 58th Airlift Squadron was activated as part of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force base, Okla. Under the Air Education and Training Command, the 58th is responsible for the formal flight training of all C-17 Globemaster III pilots and loadmasters, as well as maintaining worldwide readiness in case of contingencies requiring highly experienced aircrews. The 58th has participated in the longest airdrop mission in history, from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., to Kazakhstan, in the former Soviet Union. It provided critical airlift to Europe during the conflict in Kosovo, and it has represented Air Education and Training Command at numerous airshows throughout North America.
Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 58th Airlift Squadron has helped with the Global War on Terrorism. In December 2001, the squadron deployed complete crews to help drop humanitarian supplies in Afghanistan and support other Operation Enduring Freedom missions during the Christmas time frame. In the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the squadron did the same. Since early 2003, the 58th has been steadily supplying individual crew members to their Air Mobility Command brethren to help them fill crews deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom. Additionally, the 58th ensures crewmembers are sent out to help fill crews during the Christmas season to help with their TDY tired brothers and sisters.
In September of 2005, the 58th helped with the struggles in Louisiana resulting form Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They flew over 25 missions helping to supply essential equipment and supplies. Additionally, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was the first time an AETC base floor-loaded passengers. This was done to increase the number of people who could be evacuated from these locations.
Again in 2008, the 58th was called on to perform multiple evacuations from the Gulf Coast ahead of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Sixty percent of the squadron members participated in the effort, flying 55 missions and moving over 1 million pounds of cargo and equipment while evacuating 315 personnel and 100 patients. Their tireless efforts ensured critical Federal Emergency Management Agency support was in place to help the storm ravaged area.
The 58th is the squadron of choice for tough joint training missions. Called on by the Army's Golden Knights Demonstration Team in March of 2009, members of the 58th provided unsurpassed airlift support to the team as they attempted to break the US record for the longest distance personnel high altitude low opening airdrop. The record was easily broken due in large part to the outstanding skills and performance of the aircrew. Additionally, new winged-suit technology was verified during the mission, allowing for immediate deployment and use in the AOR.
Several additional joint airdrop missions have been completed both within the CONUS and internationally in Canada and Puerto Rico. The squadron has been involved in multiple national exercises including Mobility Air Force Exercise, supporting the large scale graduation exercise for the Weapons Instructor Course, and Operation HYDRA, a national joint deployment exercise testing the15th and 21st Contingency Response Wings' ability to perform their mission. The squadron's efforts during this exercise were broadcast on multiple national news programs. Additionally, we have engaged in joint training exercises with our neighbors at Ft Sill Army Air Field in Lawton, Okla., allowing us to sharpen our skills loading the Army's newest equipment while at the same time helping the Army units prepare for deployments.
In 2008, the squadron and its members won multiple NAF and MAJCOM level awards. Some of these included the AETC "Red" Erwin leadership Award, the AETC Dutch Huyser Award, National Public Service Award, Instructor Pilot of the Year Award, The P.K. Carleton Award for valor, AETC Mobility Air Forces Tactician Pilot & Enlisted Crew of the Year, 19 AF Instructor Loadmaster of the Year award, and the AETC Lt General William H. Tunner Award. All of these awards culminated in the squadron being recognized by AETC as the 2008 Air Education and Training Command's Top Mobility and Special Operations Squadron and the Air Force Association's Leadership Award winner for the state of Oklahoma.


Col. John Masterson

Senior Enlisted Leader

CMSgt Andrea Inmon